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The Watoto Children’s Choir to perform two concerts in Salisbury

By Susan Shinn for The Salisbury Post

The Watoto Children’s Choir — a group of orphans from Uganda, East Africa — will perform next weekend at two local churches.

Hosted by Outreach Christian Ministries International, the group will appear at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at Northgate Church, 1255 W. Ridge Road. On Saturday night, they’ll appear at 5 p.m. at Life Church, 708 W. Jake Alexander Blvd.

The concerts are free and the public is invited.

Linda Hunt, who directs the missionary army for  Outreach Christian Ministries International, saw the group sing at Salisbury High School a few years ago.

“I went to the performance and I was impressed,” Hunt says. Hunt submitted a request to host the group, and, as there was a cancellation on the schedule, had the choir perform at her church just a few months later.

“We really enjoyed them,” she says.

She called back this spring to make a second request. Sure enough, the group was going to be in North Carolina in December, and the date was set.

There are actually two children’s choirs on tour from the orphanage, and, since 1994, has toured all over the world.

Hunt hopes the event will bring together members of white churches with members of black churches, she says, citing Martin Luther King’s oft-used saying that 11 a.m. on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour of the week.

“There is no better time to come together,” Hunt says. “You have to start somewhere.”

Hunt says that she hopes the audience will be entertained and connect with the children.

“Things seem scary now politically,” she notes, “but God is still in control and love will always win out. Love is more powerful than any one man or ideology.”

Hunt also is the church’s international liaison for African missions, and directs the arts ministry.

“I wear a lot of hats!” she admits.

Hunt’s brother, Apostle Ray Taylor, founded the congregation about 45 years ago, and she’s been a member for the past 10 years.

The church will receive a freewill offering on behalf of the choir. Domino’s Pizza on West Innes Street has donated lunch to the group before the performance.

“This event is a model of what can happen in Salisbury when people come together,” Hunt says. “We cannot stay walled in on Sunday mornings.”

Meanwhile, Life Church is taking a slightly different approach to the event, according to the Rev. Chris Shelton, its lead pastor. Life Church will also receive an offering on behalf of the choir.

“Having spent time in Eastern Africa with the organization I worked for before coming to Salisbury, I was first introduced to Watoto Church and their ministry,” he says. “So, when the opportunity was presented to our church to potentially host the Watoto Children’s choir, I was eager for us to accept!”

He continues, “As a church with a community and a global focus, I am so thankful for the opportunity both we as Life Church, along with our friends at World Outreach and Northgate, have to partner with Watoto to celebrate what God is doing through their ministry in central and eastern Africa.

“It is important for the local church to keep in perspective on its place in the world. At Life Church, we often speak of how we are a little ‘c’ church that is part of the big ‘C’ — Church in Salisbury, Rowan County, and the world. When we take this perspective, it not only reminds us of this big thing God has invited us into, of which we are a part, it should also keep us from becoming so exclusively focused on ourselves and our own ministries that we lose sight of what God is and has been doing all over the world, which we are prone to do both individually and collectively, especially in the American church.”

To learn more about the Watoto Children’s Choir, visit www.watoto.com

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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